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Bayer, Monsanto and BASF all have a sordid past with links to war crimes committed in Germany and Vietnam.
The deal between agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto has thrown the spotlight on the controversial history of these companies, as well as that of BASF, another German firm to which Bayer sold $9 billion of its agribusiness to. While Monsanto has a dark link to the Vietnam war, Bayer and BASF both emerged from I.G. Farben (IGF), a key collaborator of the Nazis.
IGF, a chemical and pharmaceutical conglomerate with a turnover of 1.2 billion reichsmarks as on 1926, was a major source of financial support to right wing parties including the NAZI party, which was struggling to capture political power, winning a meagre 3% vote share in 1928 elections.
Until the decisive year of 1933 when the Nazis seized power, the conglomerate was donating 400,000 Reichmarks every year to the far-right parties. By the end of that year, the NAZI party alone had received 3.5 million from IGF.
By Increasing the funding year on year leading up to the Second World War in 1939, when the party received 7.5 million marks in donations, the company had placed itself well to benefit from the conflict, from which IGF made a profit of 300 million Reichmarks, despite the extremely high taxes.
IGF recorded sales of 3.1 billion during the course of the war. The company’s products - produced using 35,000 inmates of Auschwitz as slave labour - were most procured by the NAZI government. One of those product was Zyklon B - the poison used in gas chambers.